Monday, June 11, 2018

Learning As We Grow


         If I were to be honest, I would have to admit that there is a lot that we normally don't understand as young people. As our children grow and as we are propelled into knowing of new experiences both as ourselves and vicariously through our children, we get glimpses of some of life's truths and if we are paying attention, we might actually learn from them.

         Some time ago, a couple of my friends married partners that were much younger than they were.  My fundamental belief on this was that many different relationships work for many different people and that as long as the people themselves are happy that it's no one's business but their own.   I held that belief and yet I did not understand.  Wouldn't you wish to have known the same television programs growing up as your mate? Wouldn't you like to know the same songs?  How superficial all of that really is.

          I realized only this week that all of those concerns are superficial things. Sometimes who we love is less about the flesh, and much more about the soul.   I am afraid that some of my friends discovered the concept of loving the soul of another human being long before I understood it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Remembering Bagel

This is not Bagel, but he was similar as a young pup.

             In the late nineteen-seventies, right after I got my driver's license, my first official duty while driving alone was to stop at the post office in the next town. While I was there, a man with a shotgun in the back of his truck was giving away free puppies. He had only two left and he said he would shoot them at nightfall, if he were unable to find them homes. I took the male, and another man in the parking lot took the female.

                  My mother was not happy. She didn't think that anyone would shoot a puppy simply because it hadn't found a home. I was commuting to community college at the time, having graduated from high school early and the last thing she needed with another Northeastern winter coming, was a puppy. No matter how much I insisted that I would take care of it, she knew that at least sometimes, she would be called upon to do something with it, and she wasn't a dog person.
                 I did my best to take care of  the puppy. A year later, I was being sent fifty and eighty miles away to various clinicals in a nursing program, and my mother, and sometimes, my father, pinch hit for me with the puppy, who was now quite tall, and that I had named Bagel.   Bagel was light brown with medium length hair, and white markings. He was a hound with a beagly looking head, a mix I'm sure. He was kind, gentle, and an "all over you" kind of dog.
                  For the most part, Bagel was an "easy keeper".   He was a loving friend and didn't cause much trouble, except for the time he jumped through the plate glass window when the neighbor's dog was in heat.  I took Bagel to be neutered afterward during spring break.  My poor mother was actually charged with having the dog off her five acre lot, thanks to the rather nasty neighbor who had the dog in heat, and she paid the fine.

                   By 1981, I had married and I was working as a registered nurse, and I lived in a garden apartment about forty miles from my parent's home.  I wished I could have Bagel, and our other dog, Moppet, with me, but the place I lived only allowed one tiny dog, or cat, and neither were small.  I visited when I could, and made sure they both knew they were were loved.  By about 1982, we had bought our very first home.  It was in a rural area, on a mountain. The house itself was small, but I could have my dogs there. At first, my mother didn't want me to take the dogs with me, citing that occasional barking probably kept the house safer than not having them there.  Eventually though, I visited both dogs one summer day and found that they were both without water for a second time. I took them with me that afternoon.

                  My starter home had been a seasonal cabin in the Ramapo Mountain Range near a couple of lakes. There were lots of copperhead snakes in the woods, and in the prior summer someone had killed a rattlesnake. However, my own property was small.  The dogs didn't have the range they'd had at my parents home. I was really happy to have them both with me, but I also worked a lot and so I felt that I wished that I could have been at home more for them.

                  The following spring when I got my income tax return, we decided to fence our entire property so that when I was home, the dogs could be free, at least on the property. I hired two young contractors who had their own fencing business. Bagel especially, warmed to the young owner. One day, he brought both dogs, eggs, bacon and sausage in a dish.  The young contractor played with Bagel and said to him a couple of times, "I would love to have a dog like you on my forty acre farm."  On the last day the contractors were there finishing up my beautiful fencing, the owner asked me if I would consider giving Bagel to him. He said that would always care for him and would feed him excellent food.  He would allow him full run of the forty acres he had, which was apparently not far off Route 80 in what was then, very rural Hope, New Jersey. He also said that when the weather was good, he planned to take the dog with him to work. He told me that I could call to see how he was doing and perhaps even visit him if I wanted to. The man clearly loved the dog and the dog certainly adored him.  I felt foolish because here I was, fencing my yard for my dogs, and I was agreeing to give my dog to a man in a situation that would have been better for him.   My other dog was elderly, and would probably enjoy being an only dog, who could come in to the house more than she had been.  So the following day the man came with a new collar, leash, expensive dog food, to see me and to make sure I was alright with his collecting Bagel.  I wished the dog good luck, and hugged him. I told the man that if ever he had a problem, to bring the dog back to me.
                 I was sad after Bagel left, but I wanted him to have everything and I thought that the man he's grown attached to, could do that. My other dog was enjoying the attention.
                 On a Saturday two weeks later, the fencing contractor drove up to my house. He told me that Bagel had spent every day since trying to find a way to get back to me. A couple of days earlier, the contractor had actually located the dog on Route 80 heading East to try to get back to my home.  He said he knew then that the dog would be hit by a car if he kept him and so, he had to return him to me.  He let Bagel keep the new collar, leash and the bag of new food.  Bagel was thrilled to see me, and licked me profusely. Then, he licked the man, who had tears in his eyes, as if to thank him for returning him.

                  I had not understood how attached Bagel had been to me. I felt guilty that I had thought that a better living situation would please him more than the love I had given him from puppyhood. I would not make the same mistake again.  Even Moppet was happy to see Bagel.
                  Over the next couple of years we had two babies in that house, a boy and a girl.  We had an addition put on the house, but ultimately, we moved to a home in Virginia. I still remember driving the family car down to Virginia with both babies in car seats while my husband drove the largest rented yellow Ryder truck. Everything we owned was in the back of the truck, and the two dogs rode in the cab with him, because it was well air conditioned.

                   We fenced and built a kennel at our new home for both Bagel and Moppet and the two of them lived until both our babies were school children.  Moppet died suddenly as a very old girl indeed.  Bagel had a couple of strokes, and made near full recoveries. Eventually, he had one more, and I brought him with me to pick up the kids from school and then to see the vet. He lay on the front seat with his head on my lap, contentedly, took one more breath and died.

                  The next time someone on Craigslist or somewhere else says their circumstances have changed and that "their dog might be happier with someone with more time and a larger yard", please remember Bagel. He spent two weeks each day trying to get back to the original human being who'd rescued him as a six week old puppy. He didn't care where I lived or how much of my time was taken by a job or then by young babies. He didn't care that my house on a mountaintop had only a quarter acre.  He didn't care that we'd moved from rural New Jersey to blisteringly hot Virginia. He cared that he was with his human.  It is very likely that your dog feels exactly the same about you.

Monday, July 31, 2017

How Time Passes

             If I were to be honest, I would have to tell you that I am absolutely in awe of how quickly time passes. I still remember Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, who hold multiple Phds, and their discussions of life extension on the Merv Griffin Show when I was a teen. I followed some of their recommendations, and I must say, it has worked in terms of keeping me fairly healthy, energetic and youthful. It has not slowed the passage of time though.

            In the early 1980s, before I left NJ, I was a young RN and I made many friends at what is now the Robert Woods Johnson Medical Center, which is also the teaching hospital of Rutgers Medical School.  I had many friends who came from all over the world, both men and women who had come to do a fellowship or a residency. What I remember most is their senses of humor. So many of them were very funny and this kept me on my toes.

            This week I learned that one of my dear friends from those days has died. Without naming him, I would like to say he was one of the kindest people to both his patients and to all the staff. He loved nice cars and I remember well his Lotus Elite.  His obituary said that the love of his life had been his young grandchildren.

              How does this happen ?  Yes, I moved away, married, had five children, developed several careers, built a couple of farms, sent children to college and stood in awe as they graduated and built homes or businesses, but I have just gotten started. I have just cleared my schedule enough to be able to achieve some of the things I really want to do.

             How can it be that some of the kindest and funniest friends I have known have been called home already ?   Perhaps it is no longer time to be patient. Perhaps it's time to achieve the things we wish to, while we still can.  By the way, my friend, if you are reading my post from the great beyond, I have only one grandson, and I quite agree with you on how wonderful they are.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

About Facebook


       If I were to be honest, I would tell you that although I appreciate blogger, e-mail and Linkedin, that I really don't enjoy Facebook much.  Because my new book "Portsoy Woods" has been released, I committed with the publisher to spending six hours a week on social media in its promotion. Only in Facebook can you arrive, be spammed with hundreds of people you don't know wishing to friend you. I accepted them, because this is how you make connections and sell books. Within minutes, two men claimed to love me (based on my book cover picture), one Middle Eastern man wanted me to deposit money in his account, and one man became angry because "I wasn't spending enough time with him online".  Only on facebook can you lose rating by not responding to your "new friends" quickly enough.  Yesterday, I was signed up to a pornographic group there without my permission.  With twenty minutes twice a day spent there, this is just a chance I will have to take. I don't know if this is translating into books purchased or not. A lot of the people who contact me don't seem to read or respond in English very well. It might be that the book would be too much of an effort for them to read in the first place. I don't really understand how spending time on what seems to be a dating site is going to help my book sales. But then, that's just me. Your own mileage could vary.

           If you are genuinely interested in the book, "Portsoy Woods", these are links which would enable you to read about it or purchase it. I would actually converse with someone who wanted to talk about that !


Thursday, October 13, 2016

I Cannot Recollect Such a Contentious Election


Photo: Science Daily

   My parents had a rule in that they did not discuss politics or religion in public. Of course, they discussed various aspects of both with friends, but not in public places within the earshot of others.  I used to think their stance was excessive, but now, I am thinking how bright and wise they both, in fact, were.

                This week, in numerous public places people have begun arguing with one another regarding Trump and Hillary Clinton.   Clinton supporters can't believe that others would be in total support of a man they think is a racist and anti-woman, and some Trump supporters can't believe that others would be in support of a woman who sold influence during her tenure as Secretary of State, allowed State Department employees and a diplomat to be killed when no aid was sent to them in Benghazi, and who illegally used a private server to keep her state department e-mails from the prying eyes of government oversight.  In many places such arguments have become insulting, loud and progressed to fist fighting. Police have been called.

               Yes, it's a crucial election.  With the US in 20 trillion dollars in debt, and with Russia actually verbalizing that gearing up for war against us, people are on edge and they are less than rational.

                Do as much research on these people as you can.  Then make your decision. Keep your mouth shut while you are doing it, and this includes pollsters too.  Your choice is a private one, and your car shouldn't be torched for it, and increasingly, it could be.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Recollections of Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine and his wife Ann Holton, as hosts to Queen Elizabeth in 2007 / AP Photo/Bob Brown, Pool

              This morning I awoke to hear that Hillary Clinton had finally announced her vice presidential running mate. She selected Tim Kaine from Virginia. (She has selected a gun owner who opposes abortion.)

                        Even with the illegal and unethical use of a private server aside for a moment,  Hillary is a particularly unlikable sort to many. Therefore, the selection of someone who is perennially gracious to everyone is a good pick for her side.   Having lived in Virginia now for more than twenty-five years, Tim Kaine is familiar to me. Although I generally identify with Republican objectives, I am friends with a number of Democrats. I consider Governor (Lawrence) Douglas Wilder, for example to be one of the finest people to ever seek political office, and he is a Democrat.

                        For those of you unfamilar with Tim Kaine, those of us who lived for a time in the Richmond area, are very familiar with him.  Tim is a law graduate of Harvard who came to Richmond to work as an attorney.  Tim Kaine is a gun owner and most people who used him felt he served his clients as a fair housing law attorney, well. He is also fluent in Spanish.  He is catholic and he and his wife have attended a catholic church in Richmond which is mostly of African American membership.

                        Tim Kaine is married to the former Ann Holton, who has worked as a juvenile and domestic relations judge. They have three children.  Ann is the daughter of a Virginia governor.   I remember that in the mid nineties, Tim Kaine was elected to the city council of Richmond. This was a bit of a joke to us, since so many of them go on to serve jail time afterward, but Kaine made it work for him.  I remember seeing Kaine one day when I was in the process of parking at the Borders Books store on West Broad Street and Kaine exited walking across my parking space nearly getting hit.  My minivan was full of children and I remember hitting the brakes with all I had.  Tim Kaine turned around, realizing what had happened and was broadly smiling as he mouthed "Sorry !"   I have often wondered what would have happened to him had I not been paying quite such good attention that day.

                    Over time, we raised all four of our biological children and adopted another.  Tim Kaine continued up the political ladder. In 1998, he was elected as Mayor to Richmond.   By all accounts, even those who opposed him, said he was both personable and charismatic.  He speaks easily and gives the impression that he has all sorts of time for you.   In the early 2000s, I remember Kaine being elected as the Lieutenant Governor.  By 2005, two of my kids were in college, and Tim Kaine crossed a parking lot at my eldest son's college, where he was walking alone, simply to shake his hand and ask him for his vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Kaine won.

                  A friend of ours had worked for Kaine and done significant work there, and had been promised a position in the new administration, but that position was never offered.

                    I will never forget Kaine and his wife Ann in 2007 as they hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.  Kaine and his wife kept patting the Monarch and Prince Phillip on the shoulder. Each time they did, the Queen and her husband looked shocked, but the Kaines never seemed to catch on.   Seems they did not know that you don't touch the Monarch unless she reaches out to shake your hand.

                    Kaine was the Democratic National Committee chair in 2009, and went on to be a US Senator. All this time, he has taught law part-time at intervals at the University of Richmond.

                    Kaine has done a credible job with whatever the undertaking and even the opposition likes him as a person.  It's unfortunate that his chance to run as a vice-president candidate is marred by running with someone with an overwhelming amount of negative baggage.  Perhaps the Democrats can flip the ticket making Kaine the presidential candidate, as Kaine has no scandals, potential pending indictments, closet skeletons, medical issues which make him unsuitable to run, or impairments to the receipt of a top secret clearance as does his running mate.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Why I Spend Less and Less Time Online